Review of The Talos Principle - a philosophical Portal from the creators of Serious Sam
A first-person puzzle game from the creators of Serious Sam ? Well, I admit that after such a description I would rather not reach for The Talos Principle . After quite shapely Portal 2 and nice but nevertheless Quantum Conundrum, I felt tired of the species. The more so because apart from Antichamber , hardly any game offered surprises in the subject of "transcendental sensations". I also had doubts whether the team from joyful shooters would be able to stand out from other similar productions. I certainly did not want a typical puzzle game with an interesting plot.
And then I discovered that Tom Jubert, known among others from The Swapper and FTL and Jonas Kyratzes - the author of many games, including The Sea Will Claim Everything, was invited to this project. Two great scriptwriters made The Talos Principle read in at least two ways: as a logical game or a peculiar philosophical and existential essay. The first layer is available without a second one, because you can finish the game without knowing the plot , but it's really worth being open to both aspects of the game, because they make up an extremely successful, coherent and intellectually stimulating composition.
The Talos Principle uses the convention known from the Portal - we wake up in a strange world and hear a voice from the heavens. Elohim, or "god," explains that there are a number of challenges ahead of us on the road to light. These challenges have been gathered in three worlds, between which there is a mysterious tower. Each of them consists of several locations, which in turn contain different puzzles. For completing them, we receive "seals" allowing access to further locations. In theory, the game has a semi-open character - usually we have a few puzzles at our disposal and we are not condemned to stumble upon one of them . Individual locations are also quite extensive, which is not only a display of the Croteam engine's capabilities. The authors just hidden a lot of secrets and easter eggs in the game. Thanks to this, the game lasts for quite a long time for this genre - it takes well over 20 hours to discover everything.
I mentioned that The Talos Principle does not force us to line up puzzles linearly. To be honest, for the vast majority of the game I did not use this option, because puzzles are quite well designed . They differ in their level of complexity but are balanced. Thanks to this, wherever we start, we should manage. Unless, of course, we have the right tools - e.g. a prism to send a laser beam - also unlocked for seals, i.e. blocks from Tetris . The game clearly informs if we are ready for a given stage. I like the fact that by introducing more and more sophisticated gadgets, the authors tried not to abuse them. Until the very end, there are puzzles based on only one or two toys. All this meant that the seemingly simple design - slamming one puzzle after another - has a pleasant and non-invasive pace . The Talos Principle is played very lightly, but at the same time I feel satisfied with overcoming the thought traps set by Croteam.
The only complaint about the puzzles I have is that they are not particularly innovative . Instead of looking for completely new themes, such as rewinding time from Braid or portals from the Portal , the authors simply gathered a few ideas to date. So we have moving boxes, the theme of recording and reproducing your movements, or setting "mirrors" reflecting lasers. What is missing is a brilliant discovery tailored to the titles mentioned, this surprise when we use innovative mechanics for the first time. Nevertheless, this minimizes the disadvantage, because it would be idiotic to criticize the authors for using well-known and understood by players tools. Everyone does that. It is important how they used these tools, and they did a great job.
Talking through terminals are the best moments of The Talos Principle - except for some ideas from the finale of this story that I will not naturally reveal. Our personal views are verified in dialogues with the computer. Artificial intelligence approaches us and, with surprise, points out the inconsistency . It proves the contradiction in the existence of such views as consciousness, morality and humanity. He questions our naivety, faith or hope - and that we can easily be manipulated by a piece of code. And as a matter of fact, he asks about our attitude towards death. Such a load of existential agnosis probably won't go to younger recipients, but it will guarantee a bit of depression for older people (unless they have already arranged everything). But take it easy, it's just a puzzle game! In addition, a beautiful game and beautifully sounded!
Seriously speaking, visually The Talos Principle is really cute. Visually, it is a mixture of bizarre locations, referring to the history of humanity and associated in a quite obvious way with Serious Sam . A smart procedure, because this approach fits perfectly to the convention of the game and its world, and probably cost the creators less time and money. For me, music is the key - songs that perfectly match each of the worlds and the overall atmosphere of the game make up one of my favorite soundtracks .